December 9, 2022
  • 1:12 pm Senate Committee Approves Bhatt FHWA Nomination
  • 1:10 pm AASHTO Urges Congress to Pass Full Appropriations Bill
  • 1:08 pm Addressing Transportation Insecurity through Equity
  • 1:04 pm Where State DOTs, Broadband, and Infrastructure Meet
  • 1:00 pm EPW Hearing Highlights IIJA Benefits, Challenges

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently issued an update for its National Roadway Safety Strategy or NRSS, originally unveiled in January, as well as a new online dashboard that allows stakeholders and the public to track USDOT’s progress on its commitments made as part of the NRSS.

[Above photo by USDOT]

The NRSS provides concrete steps for the agency to address an alarming rise in roadway fatalities via systemic changes to prevent these tragic and avoidable deaths and serious injuries, according to USDOT; considered the “first step” in working towards its long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities.

In a statement, USDOT highlighted several “notable accomplishments” since the release of its NRSS in January:

  • USDOT issued a call for applications for $1 billion in roadway safety funding for regional, tribal, and local governments through the new Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program and received over 700 applications from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
  • USDOT adopted a Safe Systems Approach, which provides a framework for creating a safer transportation system and lower risks for people by building multiple layers of protection through safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and better post-crash care.
  • The Federal Highway Administration submitted a Complete Streets report to Congress in March and encourages the adoption of Complete Streets policies by states and others that prioritize the safety of all users in transportation network planning, design, construction and operations.

Many state departments of transportation are already working to achieve goals laid out by USDOT. For example, the South Carolina Department of Transportation adopted a “Complete Streets” policy in February 2021 – a move mirrored by state DOTs in California and Kentucky, to name just two.

Louisiana DOTD’s Wilson. Photo by AASHTO.

Such efforts are critical to changing the “traffic culture,” argued Dr. Shawn Wilson – secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and 2021-2022 president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – during a Congressional hearing in June.

Testifying before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit – part of the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure – Wilson noted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2021. That is a 10.5 percent increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020 – the highest number of fatalities since 2005, according to preliminary agency data.

“An evolution of our traffic safety culture, both in our organizations and among road users, will help us prioritize the consideration of safety impacts in our planning and decision-making,” Wilson explained at the hearing.

“All state DOTs strive to achieve zero roadway fatalities,” he stressed. “In addition, our other public agency partners who work in behavioral traffic safety programs, passenger and commercial vehicle safety, and other disciplines have similar goals. We are all working toward the same goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries. This collaboration is critical to reaching our collective zero goal.”

editor@aashto.org

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